Opinion | The alternative view on building immunity to defend COVID-19

Opinion | The alternative view on building immunity to defend COVID-19

Anecdotal evidence emerging from COVID-19 survivors from outside the State at least seem to reconfirm what practitioners of alternative systems of medicine have been saying all along – that the first line of defence is to build up “immunity”.

Yet, that word does not figure in the narrative of our medical community and the Governments, who seem to be pushing for “masking” and “social-distancing”. Admittedly, these are very important steps required to ward off the virus but equally, if not more important, is the need to boost individual immunity levels.

In a brief write-up in the Malayala Manorama, as early as on April 7, the centenarian Dr. P. K. Varier of the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala emphasised the importance of fortifying ourselves against infections and diseases

What was strikingly different was the subtle but forceful advocacy of “immunity” in relation to preventing the Covid infection.

Similarly, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director and CEO of Bajaj Auto Ltd (makers of Pulsar bikes and Bajaj autorickshaws with a turnover of Rs 32,000 Crore) questioned the government for not promoting homeopathy, Ayurveda, and other alternate therapies in this fight against coronavirus. Rajiv and other Bajaj Auto employees have been using a homeopathic medicine - Camphora 1M - to boost “immunity” against coronavirus. Reportedly, they are satisfied with the outcome of their line of action.

Last month, a colleague of mine at the bank where I am working and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Under an arrangement with one of India’s leading hospital chains, both were treated not at the hospital but in a hotel with which the Bank has a tie-up. One week of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) 200 mg, chewable vitamin C tablets and Zinc supplements and both are back home, cured of the infection. They were not even hospitalised.

Ditto with another colleague, also from the Corporate Centre in Mumbai. He was hospitalised but the medication was similar for him. Vitamin C chewable tablets were central to his treatment too.

Opinion | The alternative view on building immunity to defend COVID-19
A woman walks past by a graffiti depicting Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro adjusting his protective face mask and viruses, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 2, 2020. File photo: REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

There have, of course, been unfortunate cases of colleagues succumbing to the virus but they have had co-morbidities.

It is widely accepted that ordinary citrus fruits (lemon, guava etc) are rich sources of Vitamin C. Similarly, whole grains and milk products are reported to be good sources of zinc along with poultry products. 

“Immunity” through fortification with Vitamin C and Zinc thus emerges as “the” first line of defence against the virus. Public health professionals in India and abroad have been advocating lockdowns, masking and social-distancing but “immunity” seems to be missing in action.

This is an infection which is unprecedented in its effect and of course, health professionals cannot be blamed for their responses so far. But isn’t time that the significance of “immunity” is highlighted at least as forcefully as wearing of masks and social distancing, as advocated by the “alternative/indigenous” system practitioners?

Now that lockdown is widely seen as limited tools against the virus – after all, how long can you lock yourself down ? – would health professionals rethink their views on giving primacy to “immunity”in their narratives and discourses. If you put “immunity” first, resistance will last. Or so it seems.

(The writer is a top bank executive. He writes on mainly finance and other contemporary issues. Views are personal)

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